Volunteering with CFA FAQs
Volunteering with CFA FAQs
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How can we help you?
- Who can join?
- Can I still volunteer if I have a full time job or kids at home?
- Are there any fitness/skill requirements?
- Do I have to live or work in a CFA area to volunteer?
- Do I have to live or work nearby the brigade all year round?
- Where is my nearest brigade?
- What area does CFA cover?
- How many hours a week will I have to commit to?
- My availability changes throughout the year, and week to week, can I still volunteer?
- What do volunteers do?
- What is the difference between firefighting (operational) and support (non-operational) volunteers?
- Can I do both firefighting (operational) and support (non-operational) roles?
- Do firefighters (operational volunteers) just attend incidents?
- How long will firefighting training last for?
- What will training involve?
- What development opportunities does CFA provide?
- How do I apply to volunteer?
- When are volunteers recruited?
- What documentation will I need to provide before I join?
- Will I need a working with children or police check?
- Will I need to sit an interview before I join?
- I haven’t been contacted about my interest in volunteering, should I submit another form?
- How long will the process take to become a volunteer?
- What happens if I sign up but then find out it is not for me?
- What will it cost to become a volunteer of CFA?
- What compensation is payable to CFA Volunteers who are injured?
- Do I have to provide my own uniform?
- Are there any health restrictions? Asthma etc.
- What wellbeing support is available to volunteers?
- What ages is the juniors program for?
- Do Junior Members have to be registered in their local area?
- Can Junior Members attend other Junior Brigades?
- Can Junior Members attend brigade training?
- Who are Junior Members supervised by?
- Can I be a Volunteer only for major bushfires?
- What benefits will there be for me?
- Can I join multiple brigades?
- Is there a probationary period?
- Are all brigades run by only volunteers?
- What is the role of a volunteer in an integrated (combined with paid firefighters) brigades?
You can also browse the topics below to find what you are looking for.
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Who can join?
The minimum age to become a CFA volunteer is 16 years (16 & 17 year olds will need parental consent). Some brigades also run a Junior Volunteer Development Program for 11-15 year olds.
All members of the community are welcome to join CFA.
Can I still volunteer if I have a full time job or kids at home?
Yes, you can.
For firefighters (operational volunteers) most training and meetings are conducted on weeknights and/or weekends, and you can discuss with your local brigade when you would be able to attend incidents. Often employers release volunteers to attend incidents; however, you will need to discuss this with them before you apply.
For support (non-operational) volunteers, apart from set meetings and events, the time you volunteer is often flexible and fluctuating, and will depend on your role, brigade and the time of year.
Are there any fitness/skill requirements?
Firefighting (operational roles) can involve strenuous and physically challenging activities, so a certain level of fitness is required to undertake this role. You can discuss this with your local brigade to determine your suitability for this role. Training in specific firefighting or other operational roles is provided.
For support (non-operational) volunteers, such as secretary, treasurer or communications, prior relevant knowledge is looked upon favourably. Specific CFA training is available.
Do I have to live or work in a CFA area to volunteer?
Generally you need to live or work reasonably close to your local brigade.
To join as a firefighter (operational volunteer), you must live or work close enough to your brigade to be able to get from your location to the brigade and then the incident. Brigades have requirements for how quickly they should get to an incident.
Support (non-operational) volunteers may live further away but are often preferred to be local to be able to attend meetings and events.
Some brigades allow flexible options such as seasonal or surge volunteering. It is best to check with your brigade about their options.
You may also be able to volunteer at other emergency services organisations which operate within the metropolitan area where CFA does not reach.
Do I have to live or work nearby the brigade all year round?
Specific availability arrangements need to be discussed with the brigade you are expressing your interest with. Some brigades allow seasonal volunteering to help with their fire season. You can input these details into your Expression of Interest.
Where is my nearest brigade?
You can find your nearest brigade by entering your address into the EOI system here. CFA has over 1,200 brigades across outer Melbourne, the coasts, regional and rural Victoria.
You can find your nearest Junior Brigade (brigade which runs a junior program for 11-15 year olds) by entering your address in the EOI system as well or by using this map.
What area does CFA cover?
CFA covers regional and rural Victorian property, as well as 60% of metropolitan Melbourne generally bordering the inner suburbs such as Dandenong, Eltham, Bayswater, Caroline Springs and Greenvale.
Melbourne’s inner suburbs and large regional towns are serviced by the Fire Rescue Victoria (FRV), while Victorian State forests and National Parks are serviced by Forrest Fire Management (FFM).
How many hours a week will I have to commit to?
The time commitment will depend on the individual brigade and the type of role that you choose, so it’s best to talk with your brigade for more information. There is a minimum attendance requirement at brigade meetings.
For firefighters (operational volunteers) regular training is required to ensure your acquired skills are maintained. Frequency of training and incidents to attend varies between brigades
For support (non-operational) volunteer roles, hours per week are likely to be flexible and varying, and will depend on your role, brigade and the time of year.
My availability changes throughout the year, and week to week, can I still volunteer?
It is best to discuss your availability directly with your local brigade. CFA encourages flexibility for volunteers, and your level of involvement will depend on your personal availability together with brigade and community needs. Commitment to the brigade simply requires the time and skills that you can afford to give, yet firefighters (operational volunteers) could be called on at any time of the day or night.
It is common for brigades to have a set time for training and meetings. Quieter brigades may meet much less frequently.
What do volunteers do?
CFA Volunteers can be operational firefighters and/or provide non-operational support.
Some of the support (non-operational) roles include:
- Relationships, engagement and education across local communities
- Coordination of fundraising, campaigns, events and activities
- Media, promotion and publicity
- Administration, logistical and financial support
- Brigade training and equipment maintenance
- Brigade health and safety management
- Community education and preparedness
- Coordination of brigade meetings and representation of brigade in group meetings
- Junior program leaders
Some firefighting and emergency (operational) roles include:
- Attending fires – wildfires and structural
- Conducting fuel reduction burns
- Attending road accident rescues
- Attending incidents involving hazardous materials
- Attending other emergencies including flood assistance
- Attending other types of rescue
- Radio operators
Roles available will vary between brigades.
What is the difference between firefighting (operational) and support (non-operational) volunteers?
Firefighters (operational volunteers) respond to fire, road accidents and other incidents where potential or actual risks are posed to life and/or property. Operational roles may also involve management of vegetation, fire equipment and broader incidents. Many operational volunteers also undertake non-operational roles/positions.
Support (non-operational) volunteers do not fight fires, although support the brigade and community in a range of ways, including but not limited to fundraising, events, publicity, education, health and safety, treasury, administration and prevention and preparedness programs.
There are training and leadership options available to both operational and non-operational roles.
More information on both types of roles can be found here.
Can I do both firefighting (operational) and support (non-operational) roles?
Firefighters (operational volunteers) are able to also undertake non-operational roles (support roles) at their brigade.
Support (non-operational) volunteers do not have the training to attend incidents or fires, so cannot do operational roles.
It's possible to change your membership status between operational and non-operational.
One volunteer can take on multiple roles, depending on the brigade’s needs and the amount of time the volunteer has.
Do firefighters (operational volunteers) just attend incidents?
Brigades run regular training, meetings and events. Whilst firefighters (operational volunteers) may have a primary focus on responding to incidents, they can still participate in a range of other activities, including preparedness, prevention, community education and engagement, vehicle and building maintenance etc.
Some operational volunteers may spend more time training and volunteering in ways other than attending incidents.
Firefighters (operational volunteers) can undertake extra support (non-operational) roles at their brigade.
How long will firefighting training last for?
Compulsory General Firefighter training for firefighters (operational volunteers) can take up to 6 months and no fires can be attended until this training is completed. In this initial training you will learn all the basic skills and safety requirements to be able to commence attending incidents.
Once you have completed this, brigades run training to maintain skills and learn new ones.
What will training involve?
As a CFA volunteer you will learn many different skills, some of which are specific to your chosen role and many of which are applicable to other parts of your life.
These skills could include general firefighting, fire safety awareness, community education and engagement, administrative tasks, endorsed truck licence, first aid, leadership training, communications, wildfire behaviour and suppression, map reading, radio communications and fire ground safety and other skills which may also be valuable to you.
Training can be conducted at your local brigade, delivered by CFA instructors at other locations, or at various training grounds around the state. Firefighter training times will differ between each brigade but are generally held on a weeknight and/or weekend.
What development opportunities does CFA provide?
CFA offers a range of development opportunities to our volunteers, such as formal training, scholarships, self-paced digital learning, mentoring and attendance at forums and conferences.
CFA is a registered training organisation (RTO) which means that many courses align to National Competency Standards. The skills and knowledge that volunteers acquire may lead to nationally recognised qualifications.
As opportunities become available, they are advertised via field-based staff, in newsletters and CFA Online. The training that volunteers undertake is generally arranged through their local brigade. In addition to formal training, volunteers can learn more about their role in CFA through their team members and by getting involved in brigade activities.
How do I apply to volunteer?
You apply online by filling out an expression of interest form.
Once you have submitted your application, your local brigade will contact you regarding the next steps. Some brigades host information sessions for people interested in volunteering and some may require you to sit an interview.
Expressing your interest does not guarantee any positions will be available.
When are volunteers recruited?
All brigades are different and recruit volunteers when necessary for them.
Your local brigade may look for new volunteers year-round, or may have a waiting list for new volunteers to join. They may be recruiting for particular needs – such as secretaries or new firefighters who can respond at specific times.
Recruitment of new volunteers may be slowed or even put on hold during fire seasons.
What documentation will I need to provide before I join?
After you have been in contact with your local brigade and proceed to the application stage, the following paperwork is required and will be provided to you:
- Proof of identification to accompany a Fit2Work form (police check),
- completed medical report form. If you have any existing medical conditions, this must include a doctor’s assessment,
- completed application form,
- Working with Children's Check, and parental Consent Form for any volunteers under 18
Will I need a working with children or police check?
All new volunteers are required to complete a National Police Check through Fit2Work.
It is required that all volunteers hold a current Working with Children’s Check. It is a requirement to have a WWCC to undertake roles that interact with young people, which may include Junior Leaders, Fire Safe Kids presenters and schools programs.
You will be provided with the necessary paperwork.
Will I need to sit an interview before I join?
Each brigade handles their recruitment process slightly differently. Some brigades conduct a formal interview before signing up new volunteers, when others have a more casual chat.
This is to ensure the brigade is a right fit for you and you are a right fit for what they are looking for.
I haven’t been contacted about my interest in volunteering, should I submit another form?
It is not necessary to submit a second form if you have already submitted one. Some brigades only meet once a month and new potentially members need to be discussed at brigade meetings which can delay the process.
If you haven't heard anything for a couple months, you may like to contact your relevant district's HQ. Your local brigade may also be able to let you know if they are recruiting or not.
How long will the process take to become a volunteer?
After you express your interest online, it could take a few months before you are accepted into a brigade. Some brigades only meet once a month and new applications need to be reviewed and voted on at brigade meetings.
Example of a recruitment process: (this can vary slightly depending on the brigade)
- Expression of interest are reviewed
- Successful members invited to an info night and/or interview
- Successful members complete an application, medical report, ID, WWCC, and Fit2Work (police check)
- Paperwork submitted to the district office for processing
- Some aspect of the application might need further clarification
- Review of complete application
- Successful members start a 6 month probation period
- CFA induction
- General Firefighter training course is scheduled (for firefighters (operational volunteers)). This can be several months later and training itself can take up to 3-6 months. No incidents can be attended until you have completed all training.
What happens if I sign up but then find out it is not for me?
Ask as many questions as possible before you start to ensure you have a clear understanding of what volunteering for the brigade is like.
The first six months with CFA is a probationary period. Objectives of the probation period are to:
- establish a relationship between the individual and the brigade
- allow new members to decide if the brigade/CFA is the right fit for them
- confirm that a person will be a suitable member
- establish basic skills, knowledge and CFA awareness
- provide a period in which the individual’s progress is monitored and progressive feedback is received.
At any time during probation period, a member on probation can resign.
Although there is no obligation to volunteer with CFA for a minimum period of time, we prefer to build our volunteers’ capability over a longer period of time by providing ongoing training and leadership development.
In some occasions shorter project opportunities are provided.
What will it cost to become a volunteer of CFA?
While there is no monetary cost to join CFA, there is the cost of your time given to CFA. This includes travelling to and from the station, meetings, events, and attending incidents. If you are a firefighter, it is possible you will miss times with your family such as Christmas and birthdays due to incidents.
All training and equipment is provided by CFA as needed.
What compensation is payable to CFA Volunteers who are injured?
CFA provides comprehensive insurance cover for medical, loss of wages and property damage.
Do I have to provide my own uniform?
No, any required protective equipment or clothing is provided.
Some brigades have their own brigade casual attire/uniforms which you have the option to buy.
Are there any health restrictions? Asthma etc.
CFA's primary concern is for the safety and health of our volunteers. Brigades are responsible for ensuring that volunteers perform their role in a safe manner. CFA needs to know if a prospective volunteer has a condition which may place limitations on their role in the brigade. The brigade can then avoid placing the volunteer in an unsuitable environment for their health.
All new recruits are required to complete a medical form and in the case of existing medical conditions, they are required to get a doctor’s assessment.
What wellbeing support is available to volunteers?
CFA provides a range of services to support volunteers and their families in managing their mental health, including peer support, psychologists/counsellors and chaplains. These services are available to both CFA members and their immediate family for matters of a personal nature and matters relating to critical incidents. Welfare services are short term in nature.
Volunteers, staff and their families can call the CFA wellbeing support line anytime on 1800 959 232.
What ages is the juniors program for?
The Junior Volunteer Development Program is run for 11 to 15-year olds.
16 and 17-year olds can volunteer as senior CFA volunteers, with some restrictions, if they have parental consent.
Although encouraged, there is no requirement for Junior members to go on to become senior volunteers after they turn 16 years old.
Over 230 brigades run junior programs, check this map to find your closest brigade.
Do Junior Members have to be registered in their local area?
There is no requirement for junior members to live in or near the brigade area; a potential Junior Member can apply at any endorsed Junior Brigade.
Can Junior Members attend other Junior Brigades?
Yes a Junior Member can attend activities at any endorsed Junior Brigade, as long as
- they have completed a Parent/Guardian Consent Form and
- the activities are being supervised by a minimum of two Endorsed Junior Leaders.
Can Junior Members attend brigade training?
Juniors can attend brigade training if it is an official activity and their attendance is approved. This usually occurs when Juniors are around 15 and progressing towards becoming senior volunteers. The brigade might want them to start doing joint activities to ease the transition or give them a taste of what the training might be like.
Junior Members should not ‘hang out’ at the brigade or be present on any occasions without being in the company of their Junior Leaders, or a parent/adult guardian.
Who are Junior Members supervised by?
CFA's Junior Brigades are run by Junior Leaders who are CFA Volunteers.
Junior activities are required to be supervised by a minimum of 2 endorsed Junior Leaders at all times. To become an endorsed Junior Leader, volunteers must receive the endorsement of the Brigade Management Teams as well as hold a valid Working with Children’s Check.
At the establishment of each Junior Brigade, Junior Leaders receive an induction session after which there are a number of training and development opportunities available to them. CFA conducts an annual review to ensure that our Junior Leaders continue to meet compliance checks.
Our Junior Leaders come from a range of professions from teachers to plumbers to lawyers to hairdressers but all share a common passion for ensuring young people are at the heart of CFA’s future.
Can I be a Volunteer only for major bushfires?
Brigades need volunteers who are able to provide support and respond to incidents throughout the year, not just in times of major fires. Some brigades allow seasonal volunteering to assist during their fire season. It is best to speak to your local brigade about this.
All firefighters (operational volunteers) are required to be fully trained before attending any incidents. This includes completing General Firefighter training, which can take up to 6 months.
What benefits will there be for me?
CFA volunteers develop leadership and management capabilities, meet new friends, learn new skills, achieve personal goals, give something back to the community and often involve their whole family in CFA activities.
Other benefits include:
- Valuable work and personal experience in the community
- A sense of achievement
- Skill development that can be used in other areas of your life
- Access to member support services, including counselling and a rewards/benefits program
Can I join multiple brigades?
No, you can only be a volunteer at one brigade. It may be possible to transfer between brigades if you move house but you will need to go through the same process as new volunteers. This is to ensure your new brigade is the right fit for you.
Is there a probationary period?
CFA has a probationary period of a minimum of 6 months. In this period, you will only be required to complete CFA induction training.
You are not required to undertake a specific role, but you may undertake additional training such as General Firefighter (GFF) training during your probation period.
You won't be able to do any firefighting until you have completed General Firefighter training and have achieved the required competence levels set by your Captain.
Are all brigades run by only volunteers?
We have over 1,200 brigades across Victoria, of which 38 are co-located brigades, which means the station is shared between CFA volunteers and Fire Rescue Victoria (FRV) paid firefighters.
Our CFA brigades are 100% volunteer based and are supported by district staff.
On top of any fire related activities, volunteers do everything from recruitment, to training, managing finances and administration for the brigade.
What is the role of a volunteer in an integrated (combined with paid firefighters) brigades?
Co-located brigades include career (paid) firefighters from Fire Rescue Victoria (FRV) and volunteers from CFA. The co-located fire stations typically service large urban centres and house between 4-6 or more emergency vehicles.
Volunteers at a co-located fire station undertake firefighting roles as well as support (non-operational) volunteer roles just like at all volunteer CFA brigades.
It's best to discuss with your local brigade what roles they have available, regardless of whether it is a co-located brigade or not.